The Process of Deplatforming

Having been around, carefully observing the process of “deplatforming” (that is, banning) of so-called “right wing” personalities on social media, I’ve noticed a few patterns. I’ve noticed that the platforms, YouTube in particular, operate in a series of steps, with the final collision of banning across all platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) happening last. Let’s take a look:

Phase 1: Shadowban

In this step, the offender is identified either manually (that is, by a person) or through new elements added to the algorithms and filters, and is essentially cut off from the normal organic boosts that a social media account will typically get.

In essence, they show content less than they otherwise would to the people who really want to see that content, the entire point of using filters in social media. This can happen on individual pieces of content (such as all content related to YouTube censorship being throttled down, something I have tested personally) to entire accounts being isolated from the normal functions of the site.

The point here is to begin demoralizing the content creator. He sees that he can’t get anyone’s attention and perhaps suffers loss of revenue, and so he uses the site less or gives up entirely, all without having to go through the trouble of banning an account and making a martyr.

Phase 2: Demonetization.

This phase can be long and several steps in itself. First, the opportunity to run ads on content is removed on things like YouTube or suspension of an AdSense account:

Dissidents were wise to this pretty early on and made arrangements to avoid the problem, setting up donation schemes and using platforms like Patreon to avoid the need for running ads on content.

The next step, of course, is to target other sources of income. This happens either through targeted harassment, an SJW cancellation swarm, or possible collusion between corporations (which I find very likely):

If the target has a day job or contract with a publisher, that will be the next target, with the goal of getting him fired and preventing him from working again.

If that doesn’t kill the target, they go to the next level – PAYMENT PROCESSORS. PayPal and other services will inevitably begin banning the target for no apparent reason. Banks will even close accounts!

If you doubt me on this, consider Andrew Torba, creator of Gab, who is basically unable to access any kind of banking service. His crime? Allowing people to discuss political ideas on his website.

The point of this step is to further demoralize the target, but also begin draining his financial reserves. The more desperate he becomes, the more likely he is to abandon his accounts. More than that, he will be financially and psychically unable to deal with the next step:

Phase 3: Banning

Here the target is finally removed from social media. This can be a process, happen all at once, or happen in rapid succession. YouTube will ban a creator, then that creator will be banned from Twitter and Facebook within hours. Mailchimp will delete his account and he will be unable to directly reach his audience. In effect, he has disappeared. Only his more devoted followers, who have managed to continue keeping up with him despite the shadowban and demonetization, will point it out and make a stink, but ultimately they will be powerless to do anything about it. Most people will be unaware because the target will have no ability to alert anyone.

If the target is sufficiently drained from step 2 he will be hard-pressed to take up a legal fight, as he won’t be able to pay his normal bills.

Case Study: Stefan Molyneux

Stefan Molyneux, creator of Fredomain Radio, a philosophy podcast and later YouTube show, had a channel of nearly 1 million subscribers. Like lots of dissidents, he knew ads could be used against him – he also on principle didn’t want to have to worry about advertisers and be free to say what he wanted.

The first step, of course, was the shadowban. This happened midway through 2019, and my channel was hit hard, too. He admitted to losing about 80% of his views within a week, which matched up with my experience directly. I had actually considered quitting the platform over it, it was that demoralizing. After all, what’s the point if they don’t let people watch the content?

Next came demonetization. It didn’t affect Stefan immediately because he ran on a donation system (full disclosure, I have donated to the show because I’ve gotten lots of value out of it and the great guests he has had on). It was merely part of the second phase that all creators are subjected to.

Next, he was banned from PayPal, which cut off a large part of his ability to collect direct donations from viewers and listeners. Again, part of the process of tightening the noose.

After that, the actual deplatforming began. He had his Mailchimp account deleted. I assume he had a backup of his mailing list, but it was a good attempt at removing his ability to directly contact subscribers and circumvent the upcoming bans.

Just last week the ban hammer came down on YouTube, and everything was wiped away. Just today he was banned from Twitter.

This was a slow and (I believe) deliberate process. It is different from Alex Jones (who they tested the waters of deplatforming with) – for him, they just went nuclear all at once, knowing most people wouldn’t care and to minimize his ability to rile up people on other platforms.

I think they’ve found its better to make people fade away than become martyrs for free speech.

Here’s what Stefan had to say:

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  1. BTW, collusion like this is ILLEGAL under the Sherman Antitrust Act, as it is a group boycott.

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